International comparison of vocational rehabilitation for persons with spinal cord injury: Systems, practices, and barriers

E.H. Roels, M.F. Reneman, P.W. New, C. Kiekens, L. Van Roey, A. Townson, G. Scivoletto, E. Smith, I. Eriks-Hoogland, S. Staubli, M.W.M. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Employment rates among people with spinal cord injury or spinal cord disease (SCI/D) show considerable variation across countries. One factor to explain this variation is differences in vocational rehabilitation (VR) systems. International comparative studies on VR however are nonexistent. Objectives: To describe and compare VR systems and practices and barriers for return to work in the rehabilitation of persons with SCI/D in multiple countries. Methods: A survey including clinical case examples was developed and completed by medical and VR experts from SCI/D rehabilitation centers in seven countries between April and August 2017. Results: Location (rehabilitation center vs community), timing (around admission, toward discharge, or after discharge from clinical rehabilitation), and funding (eg, insurance, rehabilitation center, employer, or community) of VR practices differ. Social security services vary greatly. The age and preinjury occupation of the patient influences the content of VR in some countries. Barriers encountered during VR were similar. No participant mentioned lack of interest in VR among team members as a barrier, but all mentioned lack of education of the team on VR as a barrier. Other frequently mentioned barriers were fatigue of the patient (86%), lack of confidence of the patient in his/her ability to work (86%), a gap in the team’s knowledge of business/legal aspects (86%), and inadequate transportation/accessibility (86%). Conclusion: VR systems and practices, but not barriers, differ among centers. The variability in VR systems and social security services should be considered when comparing VR study results.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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